Half of all developed countries had at least one mass shooting between 1998 and 2019.
Satisfaction guaranteed: The caption on the company website that manufactured the guns the alleged shooter in Uvalde, Texas, bought online.
The United States is a global anomaly when it comes to the sale, possession and carrying of firearms. It is the only country that has more guns than residents — 393 million to 332 million — and it is certainly the only country to have more guns than adult civilians: 120 guns to every 100 civilians.
According to the Small Arms Survey, of the 857 million weapons in the world belonging to civilians, 393 million (45%) are in the U.S.
According to the ATF, in 2018 manufacturers produced 9 million guns, more than double the previous 10 years. The arms industry in the United States has a value of $9.5 billion, 22% higher than in 2012.
Not only does the U.S. have more than 70,000 gun shops — that is, more than all the McDonald’s, Starbucks and supermarkets put together — but the legal age to rent a car or buy alcohol or cigarettes is also higher than it is to buy a gun. Perhaps that is why it holds, among others, three world records for firearms.
The first is that the U.S. is the only developed country to regularly have mass shootings, defined as attacks where four or more people are injured or killed with a firearm, not including the assailant.
Half of all developed countries had at least one mass shooting between 1998 and 2019, but according to the Gun Violence Archive, the U.S. has had 3,607 from 2014 to May 2022, an average of 450 each year.
In 2018, after the Parkland, Florida school shooting that left 17 people dead, 67% of Americans were in favor of stricter gun laws, but this percentage has decreased each year until it reached 52% in 2021. And that’s where they were, divided in half — those who want more guns and those who want less — when the tragedy of Uvalde struck.
The second record for the U.S. is a paradox: Americans say they want guns for protection, but it turns out that 63% of gun-related deaths are suicides. Yes, with 4% of the world’s population, the U.S. accounts for 44% of the world’s gun-related suicides.
The American arms trade is so overflowing with weapons that it reaches the third record: Each year, 500,000 American guns enter Mexico illegally. And the guns do what they came for; each year, criminals kill tens of thousands of Mexicans with them.
Between 2014 and 2018 the U.S. Department of Justice accepted that around 70% of guns seized in Mexico were made and sold in the U.S.
Added to this abundance of weapons is the discourse of exclusion and hatred based on religion, skin color, origin, sexual orientation and other ridiculous things. And then come the world-shattering shootings, with dozens of innocents killed and dozens of families mourning.
American citizens and authorities know all of this already, but it seems that when faced with a choice between the right to life and the right to bear arms, by commission or by omission, they have chosen to protect the right to kill.